Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Legislature

Citizens call for Summer EBT to be funded in Education Trust Fund Budget

An Alabama Library Association official also called on the education budget to restore funding to the Alabama Public Library Service.

STOCK
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Children “don’t have any control over their plight; they just know they’re hungry,” Victor Adamo told a Senate committee Wednesday.

Several others joined Adamo during a public hearing on HB145, the proposed Education Trust Fund budget, to call for a $10 to $15 million appropriation toward administering the summer EBT program in 2025.

The federal program has not required state funding since its launch following the Covid-19 pandemic, but now requires a state match—speakers said a $15 million appropriation from the state would net $80 million to $100 million in federal funds.

“This is the first time I recall a public hearing ever being requested on the budget,” remarked Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, chair of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee.

LaTrell Clifford Wood, hunger policy advocate for Alabama Arise, said evaluations showed the program reduced food insecurity by one third. But Alabama is one of 14 states that did not submit a notice of intent to participate in the 2024 program.

“Because of that, over half a million Alabama children will miss meals this summer, and $80 million federal dollars were left on the table,” Wood said.

Rhonda Mann, executive director of Voices for Alabama’s Children, said their annual Kids Count data book released last week shows more than 18 percent of Alabama children are food insecure.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“Hunger can have a long-term physical and mental impact on our children, “Food insecure kids are at risk for various health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer to name a few. Children experiencing hunger are more likely to forget what they learn over a food-scarce summer than their peers.”

In addition to those concerns, two citizens brought forward issues with the budget including the slashing of the Alabama Public Library Service operating budget and the lack of increased subsidies for childcare.

Jessica Hays, advocacy coordinator for the Alabama Library Association, called the 18 percent cut to the APLS operating budget “unconscionable.”

“This is yet another attempt to punish this agency just for doing its job and doing its due process in  changing administrative code, which is up for a public hearing on April 30,” Hays said.

Camille Bennett of Project Say Something said the Legislature’s decision to offer a childcare tax credit to companies is lacking compared to increasing funding of subsidies for childcare facilities.

“Childcare has historically been underfunded, undervalued and disproportionately led by Black women in Alabama,” Bennett said. “Privately operated childcare centers in Alabama are in crisis. When Covid relief dollars dried up, parent copays for childcare significantly increased. Our parents are struggling to pay their copays because the post-Covid copay model did not factor in inflation.”

The committee will not be voting on the budget until next week. Orr urged members of the committee to consider the comments from the hearing as they review the House version of the budget and decide what changes to make, if any.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

More from APR

Legislature

On May 30, Fidler will host a town hall where she will give a review of the 2024 legislative session.

News

It's still unclear—even to board member John Wahl—who decides what material is inappropriate for minors.

Legislature

Almost every senator who voted to kill the gambling bill has received significant contributions from ALFA or the PCI.

Opinion

The session was demanding at times, but my colleagues and I made significant progress.